Here's a window into why the Seattle Seahawks' defense so thoroughly dominated the Denver Broncos' offense during Sunday's Super Bowl, which Seattle won 43-8.
Yes, it certainly seems as if Seattle's players were just bigger and faster and played better.
But like all teams do, Seattle spent the better part of two weeks before the game studying the Denver offense. And with that long to study, "we picked up on a lot of tendencies," Seahawks defense end Michael Bennett tells the NFL Network's NFL AM.
In other words, Seattle went into the game with a sense of what Denver and its superstar quarterback Peyton Manning would very likely do in certain situations.
Also, during the game's first half the Seahawks "figured out the hand signals" that Manning was using to tell his receivers which routes to run, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman says. He talked with Sports Illustrated's MMQB blog.
That helps explain why Denver's receivers just couldn't get away from the Seattle defenders. The Seahawks were fortunate that Manning didn't seem to try to trick them later on, Sherman tells MMQB: "If Peyton had thrown in some double moves, if he had gone out of character, we could've been exposed."
Manning's much-talked-about shouts of "Omaha!" during games don't seem to have been anything the Seahawks paid much attention to. They had said before the game, by the way, that they thought "Omaha!" was just some gibberish meant to confuse defenses, not a signal of anything.
Of course, Denver certainly studied Seattle's offense before the game and would have been trying to figure out the Seahawks' signals too. But after falling behind just 14 seconds into the first quarter and then committing a slew of mistakes that quickly put the game out of reach, the Broncos couldn't recover even with the advantage of any such intelligence.